There are advocates and there are critics, but the voices missing from debates about the homeless are often those of the very people being discussed.
With that in mind, a new publication has gone to press in Asheville, seeking to share the voices and stories of the homeless and impoverished.
StreetSide, a free newspaper published by local ministry Zacchaeus House, offers “news and views from the streets and margins” as part news sheet, part literary magazine and part call to action.
Zacchaeus House co-minister Amy Cantrell, a regular fixture in local conversations about the homeless, said that, through her work, she began hearing stories that weren’t being told anywhere else. “Things that most people don’t get to hear,” she explains.
Those stories become firsthand accounts in StreetSide, which also includes briefs on the rights of people stopped by the police and excerpts from sermons. Perhaps the most activist portion is a “Sweep Watch” notice, which warns that tourist season and the Bele Chere fesitval are often accompanied by increased sweeps by police. The notice calls for homeless people to record information about such actions and report them to Zacchaeus House.
The idea of a paper to highlight lives of the homeless has been on Cantrell’s mind for a while, but it was the arrival of the Sis/Bros Covenant Community and its funding that made publication possible. Thanks to that backing, Cantrell says she can pay for two issues, and she plans to publish StreetSide every other month.
For the first edition, which is available now, 2,000 were printed. Distribution is left up to the homeless as well, and while there are copies available in some downtown locations, Cantrell said some people are setting aside copies to distribute during Bele Chere, when they can get increased exposure.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253-3413.